Becoming a parent
Becoming a parent is something no one can ever prepare you for. People can tell you what it’s like and the challenges you will face, but you don’t truly know until it happens. Or how a good parenting group can be essential support.
As a first-time mum, I gave birth to my son in September 2019. Me and my partner, Myles, had been together for 13 years and we have what I like to call, magical relationship. Best friends. Ups and downs like everyone but we can talk to each other about everything. His family are wonderful and have always supported us, as do mine. But unfortunately mine all live in Cornwall, which is 150 miles from me. I always worried about what would happen not having my parents and siblings around the corner. As even though Myles’ family are amazing, they aren’t mine.
As I had to have an emergency C section, I was out of action for 6 weeks and was lucky enough that Myles could have the time off to support. But when this was over, I thought right, what can I do? I can’t sit around the house all the time, not doing anything. I needed some sort of routine and I wanted to start introducing Mikey (my son) to new things.
Finding out what was out there
I did some research and found a couple of groups we could go to, which I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, I found they were all “mum and baby” groups. Myles didn’t feel that comfortable going to these at first . He felt as though he wasn’t allowed. This wasn’t the case as all parents, grandparents and guardians were able to go, but often there was only one dad in the group. And because of this, Myles, once again, didn’t feel like it was something he wanted to do. He felt like the odd one out in a group full of women. I needed to find a good parenting group to support us both.
Even when the health visitor came to see us, she focused on me. Asking me about my mental health, how I was coping, did I have a good support network. She even waited for Myles to leave the room so she could ask me if our relationship was ok. She asked him nothing at all!
Then Covid 19 Hit!!!!
The Post Birth Loneliness
Here I was, on maternity leave with a 5 month old boy and a partner being a key worker. People always told me maternity leave was a very lonely time and I don’t think I was quite prepared for this aspect in normal times, but this was most certainly the loneliest I have ever felt in my entire life. Which got me thinking, if I am finding it lonely, how it must be for a man. One with no support network at all and the ones he did try, were mainly focused on women!
Myles was working 5.30am til 6pm as being a delivery driver, he was busier than ever with everything being closed, so we only saw him just in time for tea and bed, then he would fall asleep on the sofa from working such long hours. I asked him how he felt and whether he had anyone he could talk to about things besides me. His answer was only family. His brother, his dad and his cousin. Thats it! Personally i think you need a wider range of options including friends. Sometimes family and existing friends know you too well and will make assumptions or even argue with you rather than support.
Dads need a good parenting group more than ever
I have thought from the start of my parenting journey, and been quite passionate, about how Dads do not get the same support as us mums. They really don’t. So during lockdown whilst Myles was at work, I thought I would have a look online to see what support networks or visual groups there were around for us both to join. Myles isn’t a “talking” person, like a lot of men due to the stigma around them having to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. I thought we could start with a baby group. Also, being virtual i thought he may feel more confident about joining in. This was when I stumbled across Dadvengers.
I signed up to the newsletter and I joined the live one night, and there I was, chatting to Nigel! And since then I cannot tell you how amazing and supportive this team of people have been to us as a first-time parents going through all the above things. and also to Myles who watches in the background, listening to peoples stories and experiences.
Benefits of a good parenting group
Help with parenting situations
If you are ever unsure of anything, having a support group is super beneficial. Take this as an example. We received an email from my son’s nursery and they advised that when the nursery was closed due to a positive covid test in his bubble, they would still request we paid them in full. I was so unsure where I stood with this and went straight to the Dadvengers WhatsApp Group. They provided me links, advise and their honest opinions. This enabled me to go back to the nursery with details of my rights. I also got them to proof read the email before I sent it! Without this group we probably wouldn’t have been able to contest it in the way we did!
You can learn new things
It’s impossible to know everything, so shared knowledge in a good parenting group can be great. Last year we were worried about our son as he just didn’t want to eat anything. I spoke to the health visitor and she said not to worry and that she would send some leaflets (which never came) so again I approached the Dadvengers group and low and behold, they told me at a certain age, when children can decide if they want to eat or not, they tend to become fussy and it is something most children will go through. Well we never knew that and it helped us understand and learn the way children can behave.
They provide parenting confidence and reassurance
It also helps you realise there are parents out there and within your group that are going through the same things you are. Listening to others talk about their experiences and concerns is a really important aspect of a support network. For me yes, but more for my husband. Not wanting to necessarily talk but to listen to others and hear how they have dealt with things and to realise he is not alone. When Mikey was small he wouldn’t go with his dad at all. He would cry and cry. As a dad he felt so disheartened by this and I could see it was really effecting him. To hear from other dads that aren’t his family made him realise this was something that happens with some children and it would change. It did and now they are best of friends.
These are just some examples of the support we have both received from having a support group like this not to mention the confidence it gives you as a parent knowing you are doing the right things and knowing there is help at hand whenever you need it. And honest, real advice from honest, real people. This in turn improves our competence as parents because we have somewhere we can seek advice, and not just from our families who tend to say things to make you feel better or google which tells you the end of the world is about to happen!
The greatest reward of a parenting group is
It benefits our children tremendously because we are happier, stronger and more confident parents. When my son is going through a phase like his eating or not liking certain people, we know this will change and therefore don’t become so down or stressed about it. It gives us a space to offload or listen. Children pick up on how parents feel and that’s why phases such as Mikey not wanting to go with his dad, maybe lasted longer because he was so down about it.
It’s amazing being able to just drop a message to the group and ask anything from Nappy rash to sleep, arts and crafts to best books, a or how many words should be in a blog piece. 😂Without support groups such as this, I wouldn’t know the things I do or have the friends I have. Being able to speak to someone who doesn’t know you can be the best type of support there is.
I would recommend to anyone who has become a parent to join a good parenting group. Whether you feel lonely, you’re not sure what to do, you want advice, you need support they can provide all this and more. For my husband and I, they have been essential in helping us through this massive learning process. It’s one we are all going through and will continue to go through for the rest of our lives! It’s helped us realise there is no right or wrong and you can meet some great lifetime friends along the way.
Talking is the best medicine there is and it makes you realise
- You are not alone
- People have so many different struggles and experiences
- You can help others and others can help you
- There are kind people in this world
We may not be in the same boat………. But we are in the same storm so let’s ride it together!